Lèse majesté: Throwing away the key-PPT

February 28, 2012

Keeping them locked up

Political Prisoners in Thailand: February 24, 2012



In the least surprising report of the day, Prachatai has revealed that the old royalists club that is the judiciary in Thailand has continued its vendetta against those accused of and convicted of the bogus crime of lese majeste.

PPT calls it a bogus crime because the crime is more often a political accusation made by royalists against people they consider political opponents, even if these are old and sick men. Protecting the royalist ruling class depends on being able to attack the weakest, sending a strong message to plebeians throughout the country: conform or you too will be shackled and thrown in a rancid Thai jail.

In this report, the Appeals Court has rejected a bail request by Ampol Tangnopakul. His lawyer reports that that on 22 February, the court

refused to grant her client temporary release for the second time after he was given a sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment for lèse majesté late last year. The bail was sought this time with guarantees from 7 university academics, and cash from the Ministry of Justice’s Rights and Liberty Protection Department, worth two million baht in total.

The court demonstrated how warped it is on lese majeste cases by claiming that despite these guarantees, it “does not believe that the defendant will not flee.”

The Appeals Court claimed:

that it considered that the charges against the defendant were severe and ‘the defendant’s arguments against the verdict of the Court of First Instance do not have the credibility to believe that the defendant did not commit the crimes. If [the defendant is] granted temporary release, [the Appeals Court] has no reason to believe that the defendant will not flee. The illness which the defendant claims [as one of the reasons for the bail] does not appear to be life-threatening. Given that government medical facilities are already available for the treatment of the defendant, [the Appeals Court] refuses temporary release for the defendant during the appeal.’

The Appeals Court is to be condemned. Recall that Ampol is an old, poor and sick man with several grandchildren and no overseas connections. The court is being completely and utterly nonsensical for political purpose. In Ampol’s case, he is being punished for daring to appeal his conviction.

Ampol’s lawyer said he would submit another bail request with the Supreme Court next week.

As we have previously said, in many cases, the courts are a part of a broader process of torturing lese majeste defendants by refusing bail and treating them as worse than murderers. An excellent example is the ongoing case of Joe Gordon. Readers will recall that Joe finally agreed to plead guilty when it became clear that he would remain locked up and shackled as his case dragged on. He was convicted on 8 December 2011 without a trial – because a guilty plea only requires sentencing – and handed 2.5 years in jail, and he hoped for a royal pardon. In fact, the sentence was 5 years, reduced for his guilty plea.

Now it is reported that the public prosecutor has been granted another month to appeal Joe’s case. That means that the prosecutor will have had 3 months in which to appeal against Joe’s “light sentence” for allegedly translating a perfectly legal book in the United States, where Joe is a citizen and resident. Of course, one of the reasons for the appeal is to prevent Joe getting a royal pardon. And, according “to the lawyer, the public prosecutor can ask the court to extend the period for appeal indefinitely.”

This is Thailand’s sham justice system at work on lese majeste. It is persecuting Joe and Ampol, amongst others.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say nothing. They have a sham interest in human rights in Thailand and stand on the side of those who abuse human rights. They should be ashamed as they are complicit in these ludicrous events.

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